Saudi Arabian stocks ended lower on Monday, hurt by losses in banking shares, while the indexes in Qatar and Dubai extended their retreat to a straight fourth day.
Saudi Arabia's benchmark index slipped 0.1% in choppy trading, with National Commercial Bank (National Commercial Bank1), which closed up 5% in the previous session, declining 4.5% and Al Rajhi Bank losing 1%.
NCB, the kingdom's biggest lender, said on Thursday it had signed an initial agreement with smaller lender Samba Financial Group1090.SE to create a combined entity with almost $214 billion in assets.
But Samba jumped 4.9%, adding to the previous session's gains.
The offer would value each Samba share at 27.42 to 29.32 riyals ($7.82), giving it a maximum market value of $15.63 billion, 27.5% above its market value of nearly $12.3 billion based on Wednesday's closing price.
In Qatar, which has the second highest tally of infections among the six Gulf Arab states, the index declined 0.8%, with most of its constituents trading lower. Petrochemical firm Industries Qatar led the losers with a drop of 3%.
The Gulf state aims to further ease coronavirus curbs from July 1, allowing the limited reopening of restaurants, beaches and parks, as infections have passed their peak and the rate was subsiding, authorities said.
Dubai's main share index edged down 0.2%, with sharia-compliant lender Dubai Islamic Bank falling 0.8% and logistic firm Aramex down 1.7%.
The Abu Dhabi index dropped 0.7%, depressed by a 1.4% fall in the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank.
Outside the Gulf, the Egyptian blue-chip index fell 0.9%, hurt by a 1.2% fall in Commercial International Bank Egypt.
Elsewhere, Palm Hills Development, which reported a drop in first-quarter profit, retreated 1.2%.
($1 = 3.7508 riyals)
(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Mark Heinrich) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918061822788;))